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2002 F450 SD 7.3L 4R100
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been experiencing an annoying and down right scary driving experience whenever I need to take the truck out further than normal. I was looking into what people call the death wobble on Ford's, but that seems to only apply to 2005 and newer trucks. My driving experience is both hands white knuckling the wheels and constant corrections with what seems to be too much of a draft effect when other vehicles pass. It pushes the truck around due to the air/drag etc. It's hard to keep it in it's lane and unfair for other drivers to feel afraid of being near me.

So far I have gone over the front end and found nothing loose after replacing the upper and lower ball joints, new shocks, new sway bar bushings and end-links, a new steering damper, the tires and alignment are good. I have made 1/4 turns on the steering gear a couple times. No difference. It's not the feel of a loose gearbox either.

I can't believe how hard this truck is to control with all the new tight front end components and the fact that a DRW is meant for stability at speed. What else should I look at? There is no tie rod or pitman play or anything else I can find. I've snugged down all nuts/bolts underneath too just looking for something loose. Even in the rear, tightened down shackles and whatever I could find. The truck wants to give me a heart attack every 5 seconds.
 

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death wobble is not an 05 and newer thing, it is a loose steering thing on all trucks. i had it on my 79, and also on my 88 before replacing parts.
death wobble feels like the wheels are bouncing off the ground at speed and will shake the truck so bad it feels like it is falling apart.
what you are describing sounds like the front end is out of alignment.
 

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I agree, take it into a alignment shop and have them check it out. Alignment, ball joints, or something may be broken that they will see.

As for death wobble, if you ever experience it you will know it. I had a 89 Chevy that if I hit a bump on the freeway would go into it.
 

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2002 F450 SD 7.3L 4R100
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes I'm familiar with death wobble in jeeps. It's not that, I was just looking into what other steering or suspension components could cause the loose feel and in my searching it seems the 2005+ models have it bad. Bad enough for a class action lawsuit. Well I guess I could have it checked. The steering wheel is straight and no pulling even up to 50mph. Seems to get really bad at 60+mph. At that point its loose and constant corrections.
 

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It even sounds like the tires may be out of balance when you get to higher speeds.
 
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2001 Lariat F350. Jelibuilt tunes, BTS trans
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So get friend behind the wheel.

Have them turn the wheel from about half turn left, to half turn right on about a 3 second interval, back and forth until you’re done looking.

Start examining linkages. Start with steering shaft input vs output and watch them. Then work your way down the line.

I’ve had steering links look tight if they weren’t moving, but after this check it tells you real quick where a problem is. And nobody wants to pay $900 or whatever it is for a full set of links.

From there take it to a good alignment shop and it should be true. And if you can find a shop that does almost only alignments that’s the absolute best. Bonus points if you can figure out that every shop locally takes it to them.
 

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The magic answer: It's a bad tire. Maybe more than one.

For some occurrences, the interval between running normally and onset of the intolerable wobble ("IW" haha) can be only several miles, maybe less than an hour of driving.

With all the components that would normally introduce play being new, seems the cause would have to be either bad tire(s) or a shucked tire weight. Vibration must have a point of origin.
 

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2002 F450 SD 7.3L 4R100
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm thinking it's the gearbox. I've tried adjusting it, but maybe just worn out. It's not a vibrations or ballance issue. It's just very loose and drify feeling. Hard to keep in the lane. Takes constant steering corrections.
 

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I'm thinking it's the gearbox. I've tried adjusting it, but maybe just worn out. It's not a vibrations or ballance issue. It's just very loose and drify feeling. Hard to keep in the lane. Takes constant steering corrections.
Wait, in the opening post you wrote "It's not the feel of a loose gearbox either." lol!

So the problem really would be characterized as "drift" then. Hmm, on a jeep you can tighten the adjustment until it's physically impossible to turn the steering wheel. Seems that should also be doable on these actuators.

Of course, adjustment so there's just a little play, not so tight as to be sticky, and not so loose that you're wandering all over the road (which seems to be the current condition).

If unable to get the play out of the steering so that the vehicle can be safely driven, it may be time to seek professional advice? Or (since most of us would hate to do that), maybe try swapping out the steering actuator?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I appreciate the help and input. I mean it's not the feel of a gearbox in the normal way you'd think one is bad. If feels too good at speeds up to 55mph and little to no slop in the movement left to right. Then the steering feels really loose/uncontrollable at 60+ and freeway driving. I'm just thinking gearbox at this point is all. But one is usually sloppy all the time in my experience. I have replaced all loose components after all.

What is the steering actuator? There's the pump, hydroboost, and gearbox. Sytem is on good order, no noise or leaks.
 

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...What is the steering actuator? There's the pump, hydroboost, and gearbox. Sytem is on good order, no noise or leaks.
Steering actuator = "gearbox," output is via Pitman arm, which connects to the drag link, which moves the steering mechanism

Before hydraulic assist (power steering), the box was called a "gearbox" because that's what it was. With hydraulics (the internal design of which has some complexity, including feedback torque to the steering column), it technically became an actuator.

"Gearbox" has the advantage of having only two syllables. In everyday use, the terms are interchangeable -- people know the intended meaning (watch out for the Definition Nazis haha).

Please do post what the fix was once you get this figured out.
 

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If you adjust the steering box and you do not know what your doing you will mess the box up bad. I have talked with pro rebuilders on this. The box wares in the center position the most. There is a spring in the adjuster area that can brake if over tighten. There is a input so called spring that can effect the power part of the box also. Last there is a bushing or bearing that wares out on the bottom of the box and is hard to see.
 
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